View current page...more recent posts
In the comments to an earlier post
, Aaron Yassin says: "Although I don't mind a few New Dumb Little Paintings here and there (some of them can be pretty cute) I'm not as sympathetic as you or Jerry Saltz are to the genre. I'm actually more mystified by the continued proliferation of the form and view it as one more sign that we are really in the midst of a mannerist period." He asks what I think is important about the genre.
First, don't give too much weight to Saltz's opinion since he has what art historiographer James Elkins calls a "positionless position" on art. The brief for bad painting, however, has remained fairly strong since it was first identified by Marcia Tucker and others in the late 70s. Here's the gist of an argument: Technological developments in "imaging" (first photography, now digital tools) are in the process of making painting as historic as hot lead typesetting, whether we like it or not, and there are only two ways it can go now. It can merge into technological practice and/or it can be the most idiosyncratic, unco-optable form of personal expression. "Mannerist" implies decadence but idiosyncratic personal expression is absolutely vital and essential in a world dominated by mass-(re)produced media. Jim Shaw's "Thrift Store Paintings" show at Metro Pictures was a landmark because it harnessed the power of many individuals' "one good painting" (good meaning punchy or hard-to-forget) and also presaged the role of the artist as curator of such phenomena, an increasingly common practice on the Web. I could go on but that's it in a nutshell. To me, "mannerism" is the postmodern AbEx painting at Von Lintel
gallery in Chelsea.